It’s spring break season, which means hordes of travelers will jet off to warmer destinations.
But before you pack your bags, take a few moments to lay the groundwork for a safe spring break travel experience. Here are five tips to ensure your spring getaway is not only fun, but safe.
1. Do your research
All travelers should know the crime rate and natural disaster risks of their intended destination, especially international travelers, said Sheryl Hill, CEO of Depart Smart, travel safety training experts.
“You wouldn't want to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Hill said. “Or, get stranded in a snow storm, hurricane or even a raging forest fire.”
2. Understand the different threat levels
The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisories for every country in the world. Familiarize yourself with this information and develop an understanding of what each of the four advisory levels mean:
- Exercise Normal Precautions
- Exercise Increased Caution
- Reconsider Travel
- Do Not Travel
“Do not travel means, seriously, do not,” explains Hill. “The State Department may not be able to assist if violent crime or civil unrest is prevalent.”
Here’s a list of the most dangerous countries for tourists. You can also sign-up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), to get email alerts about the country you’re visiting.
3. Get the proper vaccines
It’s a good idea to visit a travel medicine specialist or your healthcare provider before embarking on an international trip in order to get required vaccinations and to find out what health risks may be prevalent in your intended destination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website provides information regarding necessary vaccinations by country. The CDC also recommends packing a travel health kit that includes some key items such as over-the-counter medicines, insect repellant and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Here’s some more tips on staying healthy while traveling.
4. Get to know your destination
Take the time to map key locations at your destination. Hill suggests creating a custom Google Map with pins dropped on important destinations like airports, hospitals, police stations and bus stations, in addition to the sites you want to see. Not only is this helpful for you, it can be shared with your emergency contacts.
Knowing your surroundings can be a matter of life and death while traveling. Hill’s son Tyler died a preventable death while traveling in Japan. He passed away minutes from a hospital.
“You need to know how far away you are from help and how to reach them,” she said.
5. Consider travel insurance
No one wants to get hurt or sick on vacation, and travelers especially don’t want to deal with the out-of-pockets costs if they do. Most health insurance plans often will not cover patients overseas, said Jenna Hummer, spokeswoman for Squaremouth.
“If a spring breaker has a medical emergency while on a trip that’s outside of the United States, they may not be covered,” explained Hummer. “That’s where travel insurance comes in. Emergency medical coverage will pay travelers back for medical costs for an unexpected sickness or injury.”